Brimming with talent

The Germans haven’t won a trophy in 18 years. Heading into this summer’s extravaganza, history, timing and location isn’t on Joachim Loew’s side — Germany’s group matches are scheduled for mid-afternoon kick-offs (1 p.m. Brazil time against Portugal and USA, and 4 p.m. against Ghana). To add to that, no European nation has ever won a World Cup in South America. But the team’s performances in recent years — runner-up finishes at the 2002 World Cup & Euro 2008, third-place finishes at the 2006 & 2010 World Cups and semifinalist at Euro 2012 — suggest that the wait could finally be over in Brazil.

Loew is nearing his 10th year in charge of Die Mannschaft, having overseen the so-called ‘revolution’ in German football. A squad brimming with talent for every position on the football pitch, he has a wide range of combinations to choose from — thoroughbreds to experienced winners to young stars. The result is a team that plays high-octane, high-pressing football which is fun to watch and hard to beat. The ‘continuity’ factor, from club football to international level, will also be an intrinsic advantage over other nations — the likely seven out of the starting eleven comprising Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller represent Bayern Munich. Lukas Podolski, Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker play together at Arsenal, while Mats Hummels and Eric Durm have come of age at Borussia Dortmund.

Qualification from a group consisting of Sweden, Austria and Ireland was relatively easy — nine wins out of 10 – barring the bizarre 4-4 draw against the Scandinavians.